In 2008, I found myself trying to decide on a problem to study for my doctoral dissertation. Most of my classmates were studying problems in their workplace. For most of them this meant studying a problem in education as they were educators. I, however, was working in the corporate world as a software developer. A classmate suggested that I study an issue related to African American software developers. I remember thinking to myself, what African American software developers?
As Oprah would say this was my “aha” moment. I decided to study and write about this subject and start a blog where I could keep aspiring African-American tech professionals informed about the latest industry news, opportunities and opinions. I approached one of my marketing savvy co-workers who said I should call it simply, Where Are Blacks In Technology? I have been blogging my thoughts on the digital divide ever since.
In her book, Stuck in the Shallow End, Jane Margolis reports on the importance of networks to African Americans in technology to combat the issue of isolation. At the time I began my blog there were not many sites devoted to the issue of under-representation of African Americans in technology. Recently, there has been an explosion of new organizations dedicated to the topic. Here are my favorites:
Black Girls Code is a grassroots organization seeking dynamic partnerships with both organizations and individuals who share a common interest in exposing girls to opportunities in STEM. The mission of BGC is to increase the number of women of color in the digital space by empowering girls of color ages 7 to 17 to become innovators in STEM fields, leaders in their communities and builders of their own futures through exposure to computer science and technology.
Blacks In Technology
Blacks in Technology (BIT) is the largest online social community of Black Technologists. With nearly 1000 members, BIT’S goal is to create an atmosphere where Black technologists and engineers can network, learn, share knowledge and help one another develop and grow their careers. Greg has since created a who’s who of African American technologists who are working to “stomp the digital divide” via visibility, perception, and participation.
The National Black Information Technology Leadership Organization
The National Black Information Technology Leadership Organization (NBITLO) is a non-profit organization designed to support the goals of black technology leaders by equipping them with resources and professional development designed to strengthen and refine their skills in support of the larger vision.
Sites like these provide the professional network our young people will need to combat the isolation so often experienced by African Americans when embarking on a STEM career.
In the past, the lack of support networks made it difficult to recruit more African Americans into STEM fields. We now have these networks and need to make sure that our young and aspiring technologists are made aware that they exist. Consider yourself informed!